Bias in Newfoundland Textbooks

Publisher:  faculty of Education, Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada
Year Published:  1977  
Pages:  92pp  
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX453

A review of the bias present in Newfoundland public school textbooks.

Abstract:  This book presents itself as "an evaluation of English, History and Geography Texts used in Grades 7 - 11 of the Newfoundland School System, 1975-1976." The primary (though not the only) bias studied in this project is sexism. Each textbook is identified and evaluation of 200-300 words follows. At the end of each section (e.g. Grade 10 novels) there are recommendations with a view to broadening and strengthening the literature program offered.

The Introduction sets a context: "It is a view generally accepted that a society's educational system will attempt to transmit the society's culture, thereby perpetuating the attitudes and values of that society. Most viewpoints of an educational system also include the concept of modifying the existing culture. While the desire to transmit a culture is understanable, our premise is that it is not always a good thing to do so.... Our project has looked at one particular source of potential hostility and conflict in our society - the biases that we transmit to our children through the textbooks they used in school."

The project found a considerable disparity in the numbers of men and women who are principal characters in novels available to Newfoundland children. There is also a considerable stereotyping of both male and female roles. Thus the range of options presented to children for identifying their sexual role is severly limited.

By "bias" the study meant the presentation of dabatable ideas as facts, bias by ommission and stereotyping. In the final recommendations, certain books are judged totally inadequate and a fairer representation of women and womens' roles are requested. Futhermore, they recommend changes in geography text so that third-world realities and native peoples' history are more adequately presented.

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